Peace with Justice grant builds Hispanic leaders

5/30/2012


 The youth drama team shares a witness during opening worship for the MARCHA meeting in San Juan, Puerto Rico. From left are: Saul Montiel, Jonathan Ramos and Aarendy Gomez

Young Latino Methodists are eager to take the church’s message into the world and be advocates for change, a youth leader said.

“We are active people; we want to have a voice, to have a presence,” said Freddy Bermudez Jr., a college student and member of San Pablo United Methodist Church in Waukegan, Ill. Young people want to work for God and make a difference outside of the church, he said. “The youth can’t sit still,” he declared.

The large contingent of MARCHA Youth focused on leadership and outreach to bring positive changes to their communities. Some of the participants are students at the Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy (HYLA) Midwest, an organization that received a Peace With Justice Sunday grant this year. The Academy received $5,000. College students worked with HYLA staff members to organize Hispanic/Latino youths and young adults to develop a curriculum to help address concerns for just immigration policy and practices in line with the United Methodist Social Principles. Thanks to your offering on Peace With Justice Sunday, these young people are gaining leadership skills and getting their voices heard.

The youth are also organizing an immersion visit to the southwestern United States to understand better what immigrants experience when crossing the desert.

Freddy Bermudez Jr., co-chairperson of MARCHA Youth, says young people see the church as multicultural.

The young people energized the annual meeting of MARCHA (Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic Americans). Speakers emphasized the need to engage young people as well as to break through racial and economic barriers to reach those who are marginalized in society.

That call resonated with Bermudez, co-chairperson of MARCHA Youth. He believes God has called him to do more than what he does in his local church. “There is much to be done outside of the church in the communities,” he said in an interview. Freddy Bermudez Jr., co-chairperson of MARCHA Youth, says young people see the church as multicultural.

The National Plan for Hispanic Ministry mentors and supports young people who participate in MARCHA Youth. The interaction offered “a good time for Hispanic youth to have the opportunity to learn about the work and techniques for leadership in community development,” said Dionisio Salazar, Global Ministries’ executive for Hispanic/Latino Ministries at Global Ministries.

Funding for Peace With Justice grants comes from a churchwide Special Sunday offering taken by local churches on Peace with Justice Sunday, celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost. It is one of six churchwide Special Sundays of The United Methodist Church. Annual (regional) conferences keep 50 percent of the offerings and the remaining funds are used for Peace with Justice grants administered by the General Board of Church and Society.

--adapted from a UMNS story by Amanda Bachus, director of Spanish Resource Ministries, UMCom
 

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